With eVTOLs and flying air taxis touted to be the next technology disruptors in aviation, we expected flying automobiles to take over the buzz. But what if, instead of a flying car, we receive a flying “hovercraft?”. Aircraft that can land on the water have existed for a long time. Say hello to the “Flying Hovercraft” from Hammacher Schlemmer, which can travel over both land and water.
What is a “Hovercraft?”
An amphibious craft that can traverse land, water, mud, ice, and other surfaces is a hovercraft, commonly referred to as an air-cushion vehicle or ACV.
Blowers are used by hovercraft to create a significant volume of air beneath the hull that is just slightly above atmospheric pressure. The hull floats above the running surface due to the lift created by the pressure difference between the ambient air above it and the higher-pressure air beneath the hull. Most hovercraft have a distinctive rounded-rectangle shape because the air is often blasted via slots or holes around the outside of a disk- or oval-shaped platform for stability reasons.
What distinguishes the “flying hovercraft” from a typical hovercraft?
The company asserts that internal combustion is the only choice because there is no electrification in the 130-hp twin-cylinder liquid-cooled turbo gasoline engine of the futuristic-looking Flying Hovercraft. The engine of the Flying Hovercraft enables it to fly up to 155 miles (250 km) at 70 mph (113 kph) and 20 feet (six metres) above the surface.
A 34-inch lift fan operating at 1,100 rpm balances the 60-inch (152 cm) wood and carbon composite propeller that the Flying Hovercraft spins. The hovercraft’s skirt, which is made of resilient nylon with a vinyl coating, inflates.
Its wings and horizontal elevator allow pilots to easily jump over water- or land-based barriers up to 20′-high, unsolvable to a standard hovercraft, while operating in freshwater or saltwater and up to 30% inclines over sand, mud, grass, swamp, desert, ice, and snow.
Three vertical rudders and the elevator are controlled by a joystick, forward speed is controlled by a twist friction-lock throttle, and the lift fan used for hovering is controlled by a variable drive system. Lowering the lift fan’s RPMs provides braking and the craft lands on composite Kevlar landing skids. Its low centre of gravity, composite fibreglass/PVC hull, and ability to fly in up to 25 mph winds and 6′ waves make it an excellent vessel. The 160-mile range is provided by two nine-gallon gasoline tanks.
The only catch?
A boat licence and $190,000 are needed to purchase the Flying Hovercraft.
COVER: Hammacher Schlemmer